On 5th Anniversary of Gov. Christie’s own Off-Shore Wind Bill, Advocates, Legislators, Businesses, Officials Urge an End to the Delay on Off-Shore Wind

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Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center

Trenton – More than 40 organizations, legislators, businesses, unions and local officials delivered a letter  to Gov. Christie today, urging him to make offshore wind power, which has vast potential in New Jersey, a key part of the state’s energy supply, on the 5 year anniversary of his signing the Off-Shore Wind Economic Development Act (OWEDA). The legislation’s intent has languished at the Board of Public Utilities, missing deadlines that stretch into the years.

“Governor Christie signed a bill five years ago greenlighting off-shore wind off the Jersey Shore, but we’re still stuck in neutral,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “New Jersey has turned from a leader to a laggard on off-shore wind, and we’re still waiting for off-shore wind rules from the Board of Public Utilities. Our clean energy future is blowing in the wind, and we need to harness it.”

The letter called on Governor Christie to use offshore wind to help the state meet its requirements under the Clean Power Plan, and to drop its opposition to the pilot Fishermen’s Energy off-shore wind project off of Atlantic City, which has received support by the NJ Ratepayer Counsel.

“The Offshore Wind Economic Development Act provides a responsible, even noble, roadmap for New Jersey to be able to keep its lights on, to breathe its air and to drink its water going forward.  Let’s implement the off-shore wind legislation by developing New Jersey’s abundant offshore wind resource.  Let’s start by building Fishermen’s demonstration project in Atlantic City, implementing the long overdue OREC regulations, and open new windows for new project submissions at the BPU, all of which can be done immediately,” said Paul Gallagher, COO of Fishermen’s Energy, a Cape May County off-shore wind company.

Offshore wind power could play a crucial role in meeting carbon pollution reduction targets under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s finalized Clean Power Plan, which will require New Jersey to reduce its carbon emissions from power plants by close to an quarter by 2030 as well as attaining the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) mandate with in-state renewable energy.

“Five years ago the Governor signed the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act. He promised that we would have clean energy from wind and instead he has blocked offshore wind in New Jersey. This has cost New Jersey thousands of jobs, hurting our economy, and preventing clean renewable energy in our state. New Jersey has enough potential of offshore wind to meet 1/3 of our electrical needs,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Because of the Governor’s failed policies, there is a port sitting empty, a factory ready to be built, and companies willing to invest money. However, Christie is holding offshore wind hostage to his national political ambitions. The failure to do the financial rules has held up this important investment in offshore wind. Not only have the Administration rejected offshore wind three times by voting down Fisherman’s Energy Project, they have not done financing rules. New Jersey was supposed to be the first in the nation for offshore wind. Rhode Island did not beat us to it. On this Anniversary, we need to demand that the BPU and the Governor make offshore wind a reality in New Jersey.”

A 2014 analysis by Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center also shows the potential for offshore wind in New Jersey and how it could significantly expand in New Jersey over the next 15 years, producing enough power (more than 25,000 gigawatt hours) for a majority of New Jersey’s residential homes and offsetting the dangerous pollution of dirty energy sources. The global warming emissions reductions would be more than 20 million metric tons of global warming pollution reduced per year.

The letter cites the urgent need to ramp up wind power production to help curb the pollution fueling global warming, leading to extreme weather events and rising sea levels such as Hurricane Sandy and Irene. Tapping the state’s offshore wind potential would yield economic as well as environmental benefits. Even with the lack of progress over the last five years, South Jersey and manufacturing centers like Paulsboro are still well- situated. A wind turbine manufacturing facility is projected to create more than 1,000 jobs and an additional $100 million in economic benefits.

“When you signed the Off-Shore Wind Economic Development Act (OWEDA) into law five years ago today on August 19, 2010, you said: ‘Developing New Jersey’s renewable energy resources and industry is critical to our state’s manufacturing and technology future.  My Administration will maintain a strong commitment to utilizing energy as industry in our efforts to make our State a home for growth, as well as a national leader in the windpower movement.’ We couldn’t agree more.  But in the last five years, we’ve seen little progress, while other states have started to move ahead. Barges carrying off-shore wind turbines passed the Jersey Shore this summer – on the way to Rhode Island as the construction has begun off Block Island of the nation’s first off-shore wind farm. New Jersey should have been the first, but without investing in off-shore wind, New Jersey won’t be able to meet its clean energy goals,” the letter to Gov. Christie reads. 

The Department of Interior announced in July 2014 a proposal of a notice for sale for 344,000 acres that are ideal for off-shore wind off of Atlantic City. If fully developed, the area could support up to 3,400 MW of off-shore wind energy which would power 1.2 million homes.  

 “We have vast, untapped potential to power New Jersey with pollution-free wind energy”, said O’Malley. “But not if Governor Christie continues to block progress on the legislation he signed into law. Five years is too long to wait to move forward on a proven technology that can power our state with clean energy. We urge the Governor and the BPU to shake off their past delays of off-shore wind and get New Jersey back on track.”